Nick Pugliese is Harm, an undercover government agent posing as the super powered enforcer for Don Cornelius.
Little is known about Nick Pugliese's past, including how he gained his super powers. It is known that his powers were a major reason he was recruited by an unidentified government agency that fights organized crime in America. This agency noticed more mob bosses were hiring super powered individuals as bodyguards and enforcers. Taking advantage of this trend, Pugliese's agency created for him the identity of Harm and helped him develop a reputation as a lethal, powerful leg breaker. Virtually overnight, the country's top mob bosses were willing to pay top dollar for Harm's services. Once hired by a boss, Harm would pretend to be a loyal solider while secretly collecting evidence against his employer. During these undercover assignments, Harm's agency would cover up anything that would reveal his real loyalties. For example, if ordered to kill someone, Harm would instead use his bio-eletric blasts to stun the victim, who then would be secretly arrested by his agency. Over the years, Harm racked up an impressive record bringing down major crime figures, who never suspected his involvement in their downfall.
Yet, Harm's cover seemed in danger of exposure when notorious spy, Sanction, deduced the enforcer's true loyalties. To Harm's relief, Sanction shared his desire to bring to justice seemingly untouchable criminals and thus kept Harm's secret. From that point on, the two men become allies and eventually good friends.
In recent times, Harm's agency desired to arrest Don Giacomo Cornelius, the most powerful Mafia boss in Dakota City. However, infiltrating Cornelius' organization proved difficult for Harm since the Mafia don was a traditionalist who was skeptical of metahuman enforcers. That changed when Cornelius' mansion was brazenly attacked by the pyrokinetic druglord, Holocaust, who nearly killed the don's son in the process. Soon after, Don Cornelius accepted Harm's offer to be his bodyguard.
Harm Versus Hardware
At first, Harm faced mundane threats to Cornelius such as normal hitmen, but this helped him earn the don's trust. Harm would face his first real challenge in the armored vigilante Hardware, who also sought to bring down Cornelius. To that end, Hardware intercepted in mid-air one of the Cornelius-owned private jets used for drug smuggling and landed it in front of Dakota Police headquarters. Learning this, Cornelius ordered the evacuation the mansion since the police now had enough evidence to send them all to prison. Just then, Hardware blasted his way into Cornelius' mansion to bring the gangster to justice. Harm had anticipated Hardware's move and fought the vigilante while everyone else fled. Harm's actions were not only to preserve his cover, but also enhance his reputation in the criminal underworld as the man who "killed" Hardware. However, Hardware was more formidable than Harm expected, leading to a grueling battle.
Into the midst of this battle entered a mysterious woman named Transit, who touched Harm, causing him to vanish in a flash of light. Harm found himself in some otherdimensional realm subject to subzero temperatures that were too much even for him. Before succumbing to the cold, Harm reappeared in a high-tech complex surrounded by costumed super powered individuals who were all unfamiliar save one: Holocaust. Harm assumed Holocaust was the leader of group, but the crimelord said that he was a fellow recruit like Harm. The group's true leader, Headmaster, introduced himself and apologized to Harm for Transit so abruptly teleporting him.
Headmaster then explained why he resorted to such drastic measures to recruit Harm. Except for Holocaust, Headmaster and his associates were once members of the Shadow Cabinet, a secret organization that has protected mankind from its worst instincts for millennia. Recently, the Cabinet's leader Dharma decided to conquer the world by acquiring an immensely powerful weapon. Headmaster and associates left the Cabinet to form the Star Chamber to oppose Dharma's plans. Because they were outnumbered, the Chamber had to recruit outsiders like Harm to even the odds.
Though appreciating the gravity of the situation, Harm declined to join the Star Chamber to maintain his cover. Headmaster then made a veiled comment to Harm that his cover would remain safe if he helped the Chamber. Harm made it clear that he was joining the Chamber because it was right rather than because of any threat of blackmail. Headmaster took the hint and formally inducted Harm into the Chamber. Thus, Harm was drawn into the covert conflict known as the Shadow War.
Next, Harm and Holocaust were joined by two more recruits, scientist turned immortal Xombi and Rocket, teen partner to Icon, Hero of Dakota. With the Star Chamber complete, Headmaster revealed that the Shadow Cabinet sought to acquire the powerful and dangerous mutagen, Quantum Juice. He noted that it was the release of "Q Juice" that caused Dakota City's Big Bang, an event in which hundreds died while "Bang Baby" survivors like Holocaust gained amazing powers. The only known stockpile of Q Juice belonged to the malevolent conspiracy SYSTEM, who stored it in a vault hidden in an American casino. Headmaster convinced the new Chamber recruits that stealing the Q Juice from SYSTEM was necessary lest it fall into the hands of the "evil" Shadow Cabinet.
Funyl then teleported several Chamber members, including Harm, into the casino, where they breached the outer vault's door and defeated the armored SYSTEMatics protecting the inner vault. The Chamber then were opposed by the Shadow Cabinet, who just teleported in. During the resulting battle, Harm met his match in Cabinet ally Icon who quickly defeated him and his teammate Ash with an energy blast. Before the pair could recover, Hardware stunned Harm and Ash with his neural net. The Star Chamber retreated after Blitzen captured the Q Juice for the Cabinet.
Headmaster consoled the Star Chamber that this defeat was not final since the Shadow Cabinet needed more Q Juice to fulfill their goals. To create the mutagen, the Cabinet needed to use the superconducting supercollider in Luoyang, China to process certain radioactive materials. These materials were only available in three fusion reactors on Earth. Headmaster split the Chamber into three teams, each one assigned to defend a fusion reactor from the Shadow Cabinet. Harm, Rocket and Wytch were teleported to the L'institut Des Recherches Atomiques in Paris, France where they clashed with the Shadow Cabinet. The tide of battle soon turned in the Cabinet's favor, forcing Harm to order Rocket and Wytch to retreat.
Despite this defeat, the Star Chamber team in Israel acquired the radioactive material so the entire group teleported to the collider for their final showdown with the Shadow Cabinet. The fighting between both sides was fierce and was only ended by the startling roar of a missile launch. Headmaster then revealed the truth: it was the Star Chamber who sought to conquer Earth with Q Juice, not the Shadow Cabinet. The battle in the collider was a diversion, allowing the Chamber's Ash, Funyl and Slag to process the radioactive material into Q Juice and load it into the missile that just launched. The missile would soon reach geosynchronous orbit and was rigged to be detonated by Headmaster's remote control, thus releasing its payload into Earth's atmosphere and killing countless millions. The missile was Star Chamber's trump card in case anyone tried to thwart their plan of world domination. The Chamber's newest members including Harm were stunned at being so deceived except for Holocaust, who knew the group's intentions all along.
However, Headmaster's gloating was short-lived when his remote was suddenly snatched by an invisible observer: Dr. Nemo, inventor of Q Juice. Nemo had gained his powers from Q Juice exposure and now strove to similarly "bless" humanity through such experiments as the Big Bang. After observing the Shadow War for days, Nemo realized that the Star Chamber's scheme for world conquest was the perfect way to conduct a new Big Bang on a global scale. Nemo then detonated the missile to the horror of all assembled.
Fortunately, Hardware had flown off to intercept the Star Chamber's missile while Headmaster explained its purpose. Hardware boarded the missile and then escaped with its Q Juice payload seconds before it exploded. Thus, the world was saved from the mad scheme of Nemo, who vanished to plot anew. Holocaust also used this opportunity to flee the scene and return to Dakota.
The Star Chamber promptly surrendered to the Shadow Cabinet, who left them to be picked up by local authorities. The exceptions were Harm, Rocket and Xombi who were offered formal membership in the Cabinet by Dharma. Harm declined, but he was still given a Shadow Cabinet communicator as thanks. After destroying all samples of Q Juice in their possession, the Shadow Cabinet then teleported Harm and Hardware back to Cornelius' estate.
Foes Become Allies
Upon their arrival, Harm and Hardware discovered the estate was in ruins after federal authorities and Dakota police had raided the mansion attempting to capture Don Cornelius. Suspecting they were on the same side, Harm called a truce with Hardware to discuss their differences at a local diner favorable to superheroes. There, Harm contacted his superior at his agency, who explained that rival crimelords were trying to take over Cornelius' empire, which was in disarray after the mobster fled the country and many of his lieutenants were arrested. Harm passed on this information to Hardware, who had now determined the mob enforcer was really a federal agent. The pair then crafted a compromise to deal with Cornelius and achieve their goals.
Harm suspected that Don Cornelius was hiding in his summer home in Venice, Italy. Hardware attacked the home to get Cornelius, at which point Harm arrived to "save" his employer. The two heroes then a staged a convincing battle that spilled outside and into a Venice waterway, where Harm pretended to drown Hardware. Harm then lied to Cornelius that his disappearance was due to faking his death in order to later ambush Hardware. Cornelius bought this ruse and promptly appointed Harm as proxy to run his entire Dakota empire. As result, Hardware agreed to not attack Cornelius' criminal operations, which Harm would bring down covertly. In exchange, Harm would provide Hardware with inside information to help the vigilante more effectively take down Cornelius's rivals. With Hardware's help, Harm believed that all organized crime in Dakota City could be ended. Harm was even more convinced of this after discovering that Cornelius was part of the Coalition, a secret alliance of Dakota's most powerful crime bosses. As Cornelius' proxy, Harm got a seat on the Coalition and learned more about the inner workings of Dakota's underworld that he or his agency had dared dream.
In time, Hardware trusted Harm enough to reveal that he was inventor Curtis Metcalf and was engaged in a war with industrialist Edwin Alva, a member of the Coalition. Unfortunately, Alva learned this secret as well, but surprisingly decided to forge an alliance with Hardware in order to cut his ties with the criminal underworld. Harm thought this alliance was great for him and Hardware, but others did not agree. Sanction desired to bring Alva to justice and believed that he would have to eliminate Hardware to do it. It was Harm's positive testimony about Hardware among others that changed Sanction's mind. Harm would again save Hardware's life by warning him of a hit placed on Curt Metcalf by unidentified criminals who feared the loss of revenue if Alva ended his illegal activities. As Hardware, Metcalf defeated his would-be killers, Death Row, a team of costumed assassins.
Harm then focused on running the day-to-day affairs of Cornelius' empire while secretly undermining it. This ended when Coalition member Elijah Sinclair was murdered by Holocaust, who warned that the rest of the group would share Sinclair's fate unless he was admitted into their ranks. Outraged over Holocaust's arrogance, the Coalition instead voted to kill the crimelord. Harm supported this move since he feared that Holocaust suspected that he was an undercover agent. The Coalition's Ryan Whittaker then blackmailed Mayor Thomasina Jefferson to use her political clout to eliminate Holocaust. Nevertheless, Holocaust killed Coalition member Sanchez Cantano despite interference from Dakota's anti-gang unit, GRIND. Mayor Jefferson manipulating retired superhero John Tower to protect Ryan Whittaker from Holocaust also failed. Coalition director Hannah Wing convinced her allies that it would be wiser to give Holocaust what he wanted to restore the status quo. Thus, the Coalition voted for Holocaust to take the seat of Whittaker, who committed suicide after learning the news. Thus, Holocaust earned a place in the Coalition though at the cost of his name: he now called himself Pyre.
The Coalition then focused on their investment in the Utopia Park, a multibillion dollar futuristic theme park being built on Paris Island. The park would be a major windfall for the Coalition through the legitimate and illegal businesses of its members. This was not enough for Coalition member Milton St. Cloud, who began using metahuman muscle to corner all Utopia Park construction contracts. This was part of St. Cloud's long term goal of ruling Dakota's criminal underworld by gobbling up territory belonging to his weaker rivals. Realizing he was outclassed, Harm contacted the Shadow Cabinet for help, which arrived in the form Iron Butterfly and Starlight. They informed Harm that things were even worse than he believed since Dharma had a precognitive vision of St. Cloud's rule over Dakota's underworld granting him enough power challenge SYSTEM, which had recently expelled him. Harm, Iron Butterfly, and Starlight crafted a plan to prevent either SYSTEM or St. Cloud from gaining an advantage in Dakota.
So, the three heroes launched a surprise attack on St. Cloud's mansion home, easily overcoming the crimelord's henchmen and his metahuman bodyguards Crimson and Maneater. As Harm hoped, St. Cloud was convinced that Starlight and Iron Butterfly were Don Cornelius' new enforcers. Harm warned St. Cloud that it would be very costly trying to conquer Cornelius' territory. Thus, St. Cloud found himself walled in as any future attempts to expand his territory would put him in direct conflict with SYSTEM as well as Dakota's other mob families.
The construction of Utopia Park proceeded without any further incident. However, the park's opening day did not when the Bang Baby gang Blood Syndicate lead a protest of Paris Island residents who had been evicted from their homes due to the park. Things quickly deteriorated after a security guard accidentally shot a protester, causing a full scale riot. Dakota's heroes swung into action to help quell the riot, but Harm could not join them lest he blow his cover. Ultimately, there were no winners after the riots except for the Coalition, which was compensated handsomely from the insurance coverage of all the destroyed property.
The subsequent months for Harm and the Cornelius family were quite calm, a stark contrast the upheavals and setbacks afflicting other Coalition members. Most notable of these was Hannah Wing after she was exposed as the mythic Demon Fox and seemingly destroyed by the Blood Syndicate, which then disbanded. However, the calm for the Cornelius family would not last.
One night, Harm got a surprise visit from Pyre and thought the latter had discovered his secret. Instead, Pyre offered Harm a place in his organization in exchange for control over Cornelius territory. Harm refused so Pyre viciously beat him until he accepted the offer. As he recovered from his injuries, Harm realized that he was now in a position to get enough evidence to bring down Pyre along with Cornelius. Still, this was a risky move so Harm had Hardware swear to avenge him if Pyre exposed and killed him.
Through his new alliance, Harm was stunned by the ambitious scope of Pyre's plans. The crimelord soon conquered much of Hannah Wing's territory, but this was just the beginning. Pyre formed a new Blood Syndicate consisting of members of the original gang as well as criminals loyal to him. Harm was surprised that one the Syndicate members was Rocket, who also was working undercover to bring Pyre to justice. Pyre declared the Syndicate's rebirth as the start of the "Blood Reign," in which he would rule Dakota's underworld.
Armed with this urgent news, Harm and Hardware arranged a meeting with Icon to inform of Pyre's quickly growing threat. Icon had heard rumors of Pyre's activities, but was unaware that Rocket had infiltrated the Syndicate. Icon asked Harm to give him regular updates, especially in regards to Rocket, so they could prepare for their inevitable battle with Pyre.
Pyre made his boldest move yet by taking directorship of the Coalition. His first act as director was ordering the Blood Syndicate to seize 40 percent from the cash reserves of each Coalition member. The Cornelius family did not suffer any attacks since Harm had already given Holocaust the 40 percent. Pyre explained to the Coalition that they would suffer no further violence if they continued paying him 40 percent annually. The Coalition quickly agreed to Pyre's protection racket after the Syndicate completely wiped out the criminal empire of Milton St. Cloud, who then fled town.
Having subjugated Dakota's criminal element, Holocaust (now having abandoned his Pyre alias) next planned to destroy the city's superheroes. Holocaust's first target was Icon after he learned that Rocket was a double agent. Ironically, Harm remained above suspicion so much so that Holocaust chose him to replace Rocket in the Blood Syndicate. Using Fade as bait, Holocaust then lured Icon to the original Blood Syndicate's Factory headquarters, where the superhero was ambushed by the new Syndicate. Icon anticipated such treachery and brought along back-up in the form of Rocket, Hardware, and the teen hero Static. Harm stood at Icon's side as well, announcing he was a federal agent and placing Holocaust under arrest. Holocaust resisted arrest, sparking a battle between the two sides.
This battle was soon interrupted by the arrival of those original Syndicate members who refused to join Holocaust's criminal empire. The gang's original leader, Wise Son, gave Holocaust the choice of surrendering to Harm's custody or facing Syndicate justice. Holocaust refused and instead challenged Wise Son to a duel over the Syndicate's leadership that ended with his death. Except for a few Holocaust loyalists, the new Syndicate recognized Wise Son's leadership and cut all ties with organized crime. This along with a now leaderless Coalition struck a crippling blow to Dakota's criminal underworld. Harm resumed his mob enforcer persona with a renewed hope that the city would one day be free Cornelius and his ilk.
Recently, many of Dakota's Bang Babies were kidnapped by the Traffic Men, mysterious figures armed with energy staves that temporarily disrupted their victims' powers. Harm wound up being captured by the Traffic Men, who apparently thought he was Bang Baby. The Traffic Men secretly served John Tower, who had suffered grievous injuries from his battle with Holocaust. Tower's quest to be healed of his injuries had warped into a lust for the power derived from the blood of his metahuman captives. Hardware and an ad hoc alliance of superheroes eventually discovered Tower's underground base thanks to information shared by Iron Butterfly, who also joined the rescue effort. Static freed Harm and the rest of the captives while the other heroes defeated the Traffic Men. Thus, Tower found himself alone and without his serum, leading to his quick defeat by his former captives. The alien heroine Gloria Mundi then absorbed the souls of Tower and the Traffic Men into her collective intelligence.
- Electro-Blast: Harm's primary power is the ability to discharge powerful bio-electric generated by his own body through a conductive medium. The maximum voltage his body can discharge is unrevealed; however, he has generated a bio-electric blast capable of staggering such powerful super powered individuals as Icon. Harm can mentally control the intensity of the blast, keeping it well within the non-lethal range. After fully depleting his store of bio-electricity, be it in one blast or successive blasts, it takes him an unknown length of time to recharge back to full strength. When it reaches its full charge, his body will naturally discharge any excess energy in minute, harmless quantities.
Harm has superhuman strength, resilience and endurance as well.
- Superhuman Strength: He is able to lift (press) at least 8 tons.
- Superhuman Durability: Harm has a high degree of imperviousness to injury. He easily resist one Hardware's explosive Omnicannon shells without suffering serious harm or being rendered unconscious.
- Superhuman Stamina: His enhanced metabolism grants him superhuman endurance in all physical activities.
- Hand-to-Hand Combat (Advanced): Harm is a highly formidable hand-to-hand combatant.
- Stick Fighting: He is also skilled in stick fighting.
- Acting: However, where Harm truly excels at is undercover work, in which he has years of experience.
- Power Limitation: The major limitation of Harm's bio-electric blast is that he has to be in contact with a conductive metal in order to release it. Accordingly, he carries metal weapons like his fighting staff through which he shoots his power. To protect the true nature of his powers, Harm deliberately misleads the public to believe that his weapons are the source of his bio-electric blasts.
Harm wields several weapons composed of conductive metals through which he can channel his bio-electric powers.
- Fighting Staff: Harm's main weapon is his fighting staff which resembles a quarterstaff with a metal knob on one end. By charging the knob end of the staff, he can deliver a powerful shock upon striking an opponent. Harm uses the opposite end for firing his long-range bio-electric blasts. Even without being charged, the staff is highly effective in close quarters combat.
- Gun: He also carries a handgun that can channel his bio-electric blasts. The gun's small size allows it to be easily concealed, which is useful in situations where his staff would be conspicuous.
- Throwing Spheres: Hidden in Harm's wristbands are an undetermined number of small metal spheres that he can charge with bio-electric energy and then throw at a target. When so charged, each sphere becomes an explosive that detonates on impact with enough force to shatter a rifle barrel. Harm often uses the spheres as a non-lethal way to disarm opponents.
- Harm's genesis began at a comic industry gathering in the early 1990s, where sci-fi legend Harlan Ellison offered his praise of Milestone Media's work. Ellison then suggested "Harm" as a name for a new Milestone character, and "In Harm's Way" as the title of a story. Milestone co-founder Dwayne McDuffie was a huge Ellison fan and was flattered by the compliment from one of his idols. Thus, McDuffie crafted a backstory for Ellison's idea.
- 9 Appearances of Edward Pugliese (Dakotaverse)
- 6 Images featuring Edward Pugliese (Dakotaverse)
- Quotations by or about Edward Pugliese (Dakotaverse)
- Character Gallery: Edward Pugliese (Dakotaverse)
- Hardware #10
- Hardware #25
- Static #4
- Hardware #11
- Shadow Cabinet #0
- Hardware #12
- My Name is Holocaust #1
- My Name is Holocaust #2
- My Name is Holocaust #4
- My Name is Holocaust #5
- Shadow Cabinet #14
- Blood Syndicate #29
- Blood Syndicate #30
- Shadow Cabinet #16
- Hardware #31
- Kobalt #16
- Icon #38
- Icon #40
- Blood Syndicate #35
- Icon #39
- Milestone Forever #1
- Static Shock: Rebirth of the Cool (Volume 1)